The idea of the classic Israel mission can be a stressful one, with mornings starting at the crack of dawn and evenings pushing well past sunset. But a new trip, organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, is anything but classic.
With a focus on food and culture, the Culinary Arts Tour of Israel, which will take place Feb. 23-29, 2020, aims to provide a more specialized experience for those looking for a taste of Israel.
“We have been reinvigorating what it looks like to take a Jewish journey to Israel,” said Staci Eichelbaum, Federation director of philanthropy. “In speaking with members of the community we realized that more intimate, focused trips were wanted.”
Eichelbaum is involved in planning the trip with the help of chairs Chef Todd Ginsberg of The General Muir, Yalla and more, and Susan and Ray Schoenbaum of Ray’s Restaurants.
“We are working with Kenes Tours, which gave us an outline from which we could sit down with Susan and Ray and Todd and figure out what this trip should look like in their eyes,” Eichelbaum said. “Todd has been to Israel several times in the last couple years, so he’s really aware of the food scene, and Susan and Ray also know that scene, but also know our community so well.”
Ginsberg explained that he had been to Israel twice in the last five years and that both of his trips were specifically focused on Israeli cuisine.
“In 2014 it was the summer before we opened up Yalla,” he said. “I went there to wander aimlessly with no idea of what to do except to meet up with a food tour guide, … who showed us all the sides of Israeli cuisine. … I also went last year with two other chefs and three journalists, and the Ministry of Tourism packed our schedule with wineries and home cooking and amazing kitchens.”
While the first things that come to mind when thinking of Israeli food are some iconic dishes like falafel or shawarma, Ginsberg noted that Israeli cuisine is far more diverse.
“I love both falafel and shawarma, but neither is my favorite sandwich when I’m in Israel,” he said. “It’s the sabich, which is an Iraqi eggplant and hardboiled egg sandwich or pita. It represents some of the different cultures in Israel and in the last 10 or 15 years those cultures have been very well represented in the food.”
The five-day itinerary of the upcoming trip is filled with various options from hip cocktail bars and wineries and upscale dining to street food and everything in between. The trip also incorporates aspects of Israeli history, pop culture and innovation.
“The special thing about this trip is that it’s a little more leisurely; every age can rally around food and find special meaning in the culture of Israel,” Eichelbaum said.
For more information or to sign up for the trip, visit jewishatlanta.org/get-involved/culinary-arts-journey-israel. Space is limited.
This piece has been updated to reflect that the dates for the trip changed from Jan. 5-11 to Feb. 23-29.